Seeing Sound

Seeing Sound

I was reading a post from a friend of mine in Jerusalem on his blog “Shoreshim of Old City” and found it very interesting. I have talked with Moshe, who is the owner of the Shoreshim Shop in the Jewish Quarter of Old Jerusalem about the work I am doing with the Psalms of David and the idea that there is a relationship between the Hebrew text and how the music might sound. This is what I have been pursuing for the past 8 years, and what I share on this website.

I believe that this article by Rabbi Chanan Morrison gives some more understanding from a biblical perspective to the ideas that I have been working on with the Music from the Psalms. The text he is referring to is actually Exodus 20:18 in the usual English translations

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.”

As you study the Hebrew words used in this text, you see a definite connection to the “seeing” of the sound that occurred that day among the Children of Israel as they stood at the base of Mt. Sinai and received the 10 commandments spoken by the voice of Elohim and written with the finger of YHVH on the tablets of stone that Moses carried up the mountain. I wonder what the blast of a shofar looked like!

I hope you appreciate this understanding and “see” a new way of experiencing the relationship between the words of YHVH and the sound of the music that comes from this understanding.

Blessings – Steve

Seeing Sound

by Rabbi Chanan Morrison

And all the people saw the sounds …” (Ex. 20:15).

The Midrash calls our attention to an amazing aspect of the revelation at Sinai: the Jewish people were able to see what is normally only heard. What does this mean?

Standing near the Source

At their source, sound and sight are united. Only in our limited, physical world, in this alma deperuda (disjointed world), are these phenomena disconnected and detached. It is similar to our perception of lightning and thunder, which become increasingly separated from one another as the observer is more distanced from the source.

If we are bound and limited to the present, if we can only perceive the universe through the viewpoint of the temporal and the material, then we will always be aware of the divide between sight and sound. The prophetic vision at Mount Sinai, however, granted the people a unique perspective, as if they were standing near the source of Creation. From that vantage point, they were able to witness the underlying unity of the universe. They were able to see sounds and hear sights. God’s revelation at Sinai was registered by all their senses simultaneously, as a single, undivided perception.

Gold from the Land of Israel p. 135. Adapted from Mo’adei HaRe’iyah, p. 491

Copyright © 2006 by Chanan Morrison